Allergic symptoms occur when the immune system of a person which is the body's defence mechanism overreacts and creates antibodies. The immune system recognises the proteins from the food as foreign substances and tries to save the body from any harm. Corn is one such food which can make a person show up allergic reactions.
Children can outgrow the allergy symptoms when they reach adolescence. Body's immune system would have become strong by then. At a young age, the sensitive and delicate immune system may not tolerate frequent changing of diet in infants and toddlers. Hence the food has to be introduced one at a time, slowly.
Corn and its derivatives are used in many processed foods and the list is very long. It is very hard to avoid them totally from the diet.
- Nausea, stomach cramps
- Skin rashes
- Joint pains
- Upper respiratory tract infections
- Mood swings
- Sneezing and runny nose
As in the case of other allergic reactions, the reactions can be from mild to severe. Symptoms and the severity may vary from person to person. Each individual can exhibit a different degree of the allergic reactions every time.
In severe cases, Anaphylaxis - a life-threatening allergic reaction which needs immediate medical supervision and hospitalisation can occur. Here the blood pressure drops, pulse beats are very fast, dizziness and heart palpitations would be the symptoms. Disorientation is also seen in few cases. This is a severe and dangerous condition where the patient may lose his life if not attended to immediately.
Corn starch is used for dusting surgical gloves. Corn based dextrose intravenous solution – is a by-product of corn. It is hence difficult to avoid corn.
Test & diagnosis
However, mild the allergic reaction is, it is always better to give the full information to your doctor. Details of what food you had and what were the immediate symptoms if they occur immediately should be provided. He would direct you to see a specialist in allergies – called as Allergist. The allergist will take your family medical history and conduct several tests. If any close relative in the family is suffering from allergies, the doctor should be kept informed. This will help him in his diagnosis.
Allergy to corn is also difficult to diagnose using the common skin prick test or blood tests due to the difficulty in differentiating from other allergies caused by the other seeds or grain. The only test which would confirm the allergy from corn is the elimination diet test where the allergist advises removal of corn and corn products from the diet for few weeks and later introduces, and all the while monitors the reactions.
Corn and its by-products are added to many packaged foods. The list is very long. Eliminating the "hidden" corn ingredient from the diet is hence a challenge.
Once your doctor has diagnosed the allergy to corn from conducting the elimination test, he will advise you on changing your diet patterns. He will also help you with a list of what can be safely consumed and what you should avoid. Any food allergy that is diagnosed needs diet changes. Instead of corn, rice can be substituted in the diet. Lentils can be used. Your doctor will also advise on this aspect.
Prevention is always better than cure. As to not suffer again in the future life, it is better to avoid corn and any corn products fully to be free of these allergic reactions.